November 29, 2006
Levy Fights A Legal Battle
Opponents were flabbergasted, then inflamed. Last week, as foes of Broadwater Energy's plan to site a Queen Mary-sized liquid natural gas platform off the coast of Wading River railed against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's determination that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment, County Executive Steve Levy and his legal eagles were pursuing another strategy geared towards tanking the tankers.
Earlier this month his attorneys filed formal objections to Broadwater's application for easements that would allow the project to proceed. The company sought permission from the New York State Office of General Services to traverse the bottomlands of Long Island Sound in order to construct the massive facility and associated pipelines.
Levy and company don't believe NYSOGS has the authority to grant the easements, which county legal experts described as "pervasive and intrusive." Navigation Laws of 1881 specifically give county government jurisdiction over the Sound, they believe. The federal Sounds Stewardship law would be violated if the request were approved, as well. Also violated? A recently passed county law prohibiting LNG facilities in the Sound.
There's more. The request is premature, Levy's team has argued. The FERC review ought to conclude before the easements are procured, they say. Last week's FERC fracas involved the release of its Draft Environmental Impact Study of the project. It could be months before the EIS process concludes on the federal level.
With the opinion that the project would pose both a safety hazard and detriment to the environment, county experts demanded a full-scale environmental review of the easement proposal alone to take place after FERC's comprehensive review of the potential environmental impacts is completed.
According to the county executive, the Broadwater proposal would result in the loss of 950 acres of underwater land for the floating terminal, plus another 1722 acres atop the water for mandatory safety zones. The Long Island Sound contributes $5.5 billion to the region's economy annually, Levy reminded, stating, "Long Islanders rely on our waterways for commercial and transportation purposes, as well as relaxation and recreation."
On Monday, John Hritcko of Broadwater responded to the county's assertions, stating, "We are making timely applications to the appropriate agency that grants right-of-way applications."